Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Wait

Can you remember when your child was young and how they had a cute way of saying something?

My youngest, Tiffany, says the word SEED instead of SAW when she is talking.  It was really cute when she was younger, but now that she is in pre-school, I decided it was time to correct her speech.

The next time I heard her say, "Daddy, I seed a deer on the way home today!" I lovingly replied, "Tiffany, it's not seed, but we say, saw."

To that she said, "No Mommy, we say SEED!"

Ok, this was going to be more difficult than I had realized.  Perhaps I should have corrected this one some time ago instead of waiting because it was so cute!

Plan B - I tried reasoning with her, "Sweet heart, a SEED is something we plant, so the proper way to say it is to say, "I SAW."

To that, my husband chimed in, "Don't you use a SAW to cut down trees?"  AAAHHH!!  He was not helping! (Although he did have a valid point.)

Moving to plan C - Now every time she improperly says "I seed," I simply repeat it back and say, "You saw?"  It will take a little more work on my part, but I'm hoping that before long she will begin speaking properly.

What's my parenting tip in all of this?  Don't wait until a behavior has become a habit when correcting your children.  Even if it seems cute when they are young.

You know what I am referring to, remember when your toddler son threw something in anger and you thought, "Hey, Jr. has a great arm on him!"  Keep those thoughts to yourselves and think ahead to when they are older and if it will still be cute.  It's all about training, and the younger we can curb those bad habits, the easier it will be for everyone.


Friday, November 27, 2009

Addicted to Spending?

Are Americans addicted to spending?

Well, if we consider the behavior in Washington these days, one would certainly think so! I suspect , however we could see evidence a little closer to home as well. Just hang out around your local shopping mall today (Black Friday!) and observe the frenzy. Still not sure what I'm talking about?

Consider this. When we think of addiction, we think of something being habit-forming or compulsive. Spending certainly fits the bill there. The more we spend the easier it becomes. In fact, that’s the way it typically works with addictions, they are not only habit forming, but we can develop higher and higher tolerances for the objects of our addiction as well, so over time we require more of that addictive substance or activity to get the same result. If you look at the Federal Reserve Data for household debt in this country over the past decade, you would see that Americans have more than doubled the amount of their debt. It’s as if to say if a little feels good, more is even better.

Addiction also involves an impaired, or possibly even a total lack of ability to control the behavior. How many times have you heard someone say, “I shouldn’t have spent the money, but I HAD to have it!“ A lot of times, the objects of our addictions go from being something we want to something we feel we actually NEED for survival, and depending on the addiction, that NEED can be emotional or even take on physical symptoms.

People who are addicted to something also tend to persist or relapse into the behavior, even though they recognize the evidence that it is harmful. You’ve probably heard a smoker say, “I know smoking is bad for me, but I just can’t quit.” The same is true when it comes to spending. People experience extreme amounts of stress due to the debt that results from over-spending. They are physically and emotionally exhausted from working to payoff the debt, yet they find it difficult to get off that treadmill. You probably know people who have gotten totally out of debt and then allowed themselves to get back into the very same predicament again, usually worse than the time before. Why? Because they treated the symptom. They paid off the debt,but never dealt with the behavior that got them there-the addiction itself -or more accurately, the root of the addiction. When it comes to spending issues, the questions we might ask ourselves to get to the root of the matter might be, why am I spending this money the way I do? Am I believing that I am receiving something by obtaining these things that it is conflict with God’s word? Am I allowing myself to go into debt out of fear? Am I not trusting God to provide for my needs and taking that burden on myself?

One sure way to detect whether something is an addiction or not is to take that something away. Addicted people tend to become dissatisfied or very irritable when that happens. They develop intense cravings and can develop emotional and physical dependency on the focus of their addiction. As crazy as it sounds I have seen this with an individual that I would argue was a “shopaholic.” I actually witnessed this person going to great lengths to fit in a weekend shopping excursion. Then, when she arrived at the mall, she had a very perceivable "heightened" sense of anticipation. I watched her move quickly and seemingly desperately from store to store for some time. After making several purchases, she reported back to the group and said with a heavy sigh, “I feel better now!” As if not being able to buy was making her physically uncomfortable! I kid you not!

Research has shown there are many causes that contribute to forming an addictive behavior. When it comes to chemical dependence, heredity can be a factor surely, but by and large it has been found that some of the things addicts tend to have in common is that they tend to be sensitive to peer pressure and possess low self-esteem. They might also come from environments that support their addictive behaviors either positively or negatively, and they tend to have a lower tolerance for stress.

I am hard-pressed to come up with an example where excessive spending wasn’t rooted in one or a combination of these causes. Think about it. There is a lot of pressure in our society, primarily created by the advertising and marketing industry to convince people that they need certain things to be considered valuable. People buy things and get into debt to keep up with the Jones’ all the time. Teenagers feel like they need those $200 athletic shoes to fit in and by the time those teenagers become adults the stakes are higher. Expensive homes, expensive cars, expensive wardrobes... all to keep up an image and be accepted or admired. We surely live in a society where debt is now so mainstream that people think you’re odd if you don’t use a credit card or have any debt. Go back a couple of generations and that just wasn’t the case. Most baby boomers and younger were raised with a different mentality about spending. For one thing, buy now pay later wasn’t so readily available before that. Our culture has done a lot to remove the guilt and social stigma that once was associated with overspending and debt. Advertising slogans like “You deserve a break today” and “Priceless” are aimed at making consumers feel that spending equates to doing something GOOD for yourself.

Once again the world’s economy sells you one bill of goods and God’s economy says something different. In fact, God says debt isn’t good for you at all. Proverbs 22:7 tells us its slavery. The borrower is servant to the lender. Earlier, I mentioned that addiction could be defined as lacking control. The addict not only loses the power to control the addiction but the addiction can ultimately control them as well. How many people are totally controlled by their spending habits? It's not just the inability to stop spending, but the bondage of trying to continually work to pay for the spending. We become like those little gerbils running on one of those exercise wheels. Working, working, working...and never getting anywhere. Sounds like slavery to me!

Addiction can also come from having a low tolerance for stress. We use "things" to cope with the many difficult situations that crop up in our lives. When it comes to spending, many people find themselves in situations where they know they don’t have the money for something but feel like they really need it and so they don’t hesitate to pull out that credit card. The credit card is an "easy fix." In fact, many people who come in for financial coaching fall prey to this. “I had to do it” they’ll say about their recent credit card purchase. In most cases, however, upon thorough examination, the item was either not really something the truly needed or as some people now can testify, God would have found a way to provide that thing for them if they had they given him the chance. Many times our stressful financial situations are tests to see if we really trust God or not.

So, hopefully I’ve convinced you that spending truly can be an addictive behavior, but just as in all other addictions, there really is hope. We can be rehabilitated from spending and debt if we want to be. It is not God’s will for us to be enslaved by anything of this world because we belong to Christ. 1 Corinthians 7:23 tells us “You were bought at a price, do not become slaves of men.” We have to do our part, but we also have to trust God to do His.

For a long time, I didn't see my spending or debt as anything more than a bad habit. But when Jesus truly became the Lord of my life, I realized that I couldn't continue in that behavior and still live in God's economy. It robbed me from living the abundant life that Christ died to give me. He died, to set us free from all bondage so why would we choose to enslave ourselves? Debt hurts us financially and it destroys our witness to the rest of the world. God has called us to be lenders not borrowers. He intended for his people to be blessed and for that blessing to be evident to the world around us. We are to be the salt of the earth, a beacon of light, a city on the hill. It is to God’s glory that we are free from the bondage of "man's economy" and be blessed so that we can be a blessing to others.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

This is my Apple Pecan Braid. It's a recipe I created as an alternative to apple pie. My daughter, my grand-daughter Word Girl, and I all love it. The little ones, Miss Personality and Computer Girl don't have the same opinion. I hadn't made this in quite some time so I decided to make it one Sunday while the girls were over. I knew the little ones weren't fond of this but I had something else they could snack on so I went ahead with it. Being the oldest, Word Girl takes a back seat to the little ones a lot. I'm really very proud of how well she handles it too. So sometimes I try to consider her first when I'm making these decisions and she was thrilled at this decision.

Miss Personality hung out with me in the kitchen while I made it and happily stole apple slices from my stock as I worked. We talked about the ingredients and she confirmed that she loved them all except the pecans but that she could pick them out. So she was sure she would like it and she wanted a piece when it was done.

After it came out of the oven I let Word Girl drizzle the icing on it. Now the icing was something they all loved. About that time Computer Girl came to watch. She knew she didn't like the braid and had a look of disappointment on her face but didn't voice any complaints. I let her taste a little piece of the crust with some icing on it and her eyes brightened up so I asked her if she would like a piece from the end where it is mainly crust with icing and she liked that idea.

As we were all enjoying our pastry and each other's company, Computer Girl looked over at me and in her sweet little voice said "Thank you Grandma." That one little expression of gratitude said so much. For one thing, it said that she felt loved. It also said that she was content with what she had been given. We both knew that it wasn't what she would have picked if she had been given the choice, but still she was content with it and freely offered an expression of gratitude without any prompting. That expression melted my heart and made me very proud of her.

God doesn't always give us what we want but He never discounts our desires. We can choose to complain about what we don't have or we can choose to be thankful and content with what is given. As we celebrate Thanksgiving, and throughout our lives, may we melt His heart and make Him proud.

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Psalm 118:28

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Listen, My Son


"Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching." Proverbs 1:8.

Twenty-six times Solomon writes, "my son" followed by an exhortation such as, "Listen my son," or "My son, do not forget ..." Solomon is offering some concrete instruction to bolster his son’s insight and moral conditioning. There is a great emphasis in Proverbs for a son or daughter to listen to what Solomon has to say. His advice is right in line with what Christian parents today tell their kids. There is an emphasis here for children to listen to their moms and dads and to apply the lessons they teach about love, marriage, hard work and honesty.

There is an important lesson for the parents here as well. It is as important for the parents to teach as it is for the children to listen. Our kids can’t listen and they can’t learn if we are not actively instructing them. I think we parents make two grave mistakes when it comes to teaching lessons of life to our children.

One, we think they will pick up the important lessons from us by observation. Many lessons they will. "More is caught then taught" is often true. But not always. They may catch our behavior, but what about the mental processing behind our behavior? My children were not there when I picked their mother to be my wife. Why did I pick her? Was I attracted to her looks? Was I more attracted to her values and morals? Did I know before we married that she really wanted to be a wife and mother? The answer is "yes" to all these questions. But my kids can’t know that apart from me telling them. I have told them, many times. I want them to know the critical issues involved in selecting a mate for life, for choosing moral behavior, for working hard. These things are too important to be left to chance!! They must be taught. By teaching them, we equip them to make wiser choices than they would have made on their own.

Two, we think we can expect obedient behavior "because we say so." That is parental authority, and it works great when the kids are little. They wouldn’t understand detailed explanations anyway. But, what about when they grow older and begin making decisions on their own? Or when they are away from us? What is it that internalizes our values into their hearts? There comes a time when "because we say so" must give way to "this is why I say this" or "this is why we want you to do this." As they mature, let them know the reasons we expect certain behavior. Once they know and understand and it gets into their hearts it belongs to them.

"Bobby" is an example of a child who was drilled with "because I say so" but was never schooled in the reasons. Bobby’s crowd began drinking. His mother "freaked out" and assumed an authoritarian posture. "If I catch you drinking and driving I’ll make your life miserable!" Mom was acting for the good of the boy. She was the parent and had the right to insist on more mature behavior from her son. But she failed to internalize the lessons so the boy understood. She never explained to him the dangers of drinking and how it could lead to further irresponsible behavior, loss of control and even an accident or death. Bobby thought he was old enough to make his own choices. One night he too much. Fearful of his mother finding out he decided not to call her. He tried driving home on his own but didn’t make it. The mother and young child he hit were severely injured. (Phil McGraw, Family First (New York: Free Press), p.167).

Contrast this story with another teenage boy whose dad did school him in the reasons for not drinking. He still experimented. He drove home from one teen party with a beer in his hand. Thinking how it would hurt his mom and dad to see him with that, the boy opened the window and threw the beer out. Sure, he littered, but he did honor his dad’s instruction. "Listen, my son."

Dads, our kids do listen. Let's teach.

Warren Baldwin

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Husband Is My Brother in Christ First

"How delightful is your love, my sister, my bride!"

Song of Solomon 4:10

One thing the Lord impressed upon my heart early in our marriage was to always remember that my husband was and is my brother in Christ first. Jim and I are God's children first. God then brought us together beautifully as husband and wife.

This true perspective of our relationships with God and each other brings an immediate reverence for God and for my husband. If I look at him only as "my husband", I can become entitled and self-righteous. Tapping my toe with hands on hips, I could begin to make selfish demands, spoken and unspoken. This is damaging. I genuinely love and respect my husband deeply, yet my sin nature can be destructive if my heart is not yielded to the Holy Spirit. I want to be the wise woman who builds her house, not the foolish one who tears it down with her own hands. "The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." (Proverbs 14:1 NIV)

When my heart is postured according to God's alignment, I am humbled and thankful acknowledging that Jim is my precious brother in Christ first. Self-righteous entitlement falls away. I am more gracious, more merciful and readily able to speak the truth in love as Jim's wife, seeing him as God's son, my brother and my husband. I serve him with joy. My toes stop tapping and my hands go from being on my hips to hands outstretched to God.

When Jim is loving me as God's daughter, his sister in the Lord and his wife, his words are more gentle, he is able to compassionately point me to Jesus when I falter, and he more readily loves me as Christ loves the church.

Being brother and sister in Christ is a unique, beautiful and faithful foundation in a Christian marriage. As we desire to honor God with our marriages, let's remember that our spouse is our sibling in Christ first. As we care for our spouse and marriage as unto the Lord, He brings blessing, fruit and growth.

To read 1 Thessalonians 4 ("Living to Please God"), click here: Bible Gateway.

"You are all sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ...for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26, 28

Congratulations to DAWN, who is the winner of the Love and Respect Book from the November 6th post titled "Love and Respect".


© 2009 by Sharon Sloan. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


B.U.S.Y -- Being Under Satan's Yoke. That is the acronym that was posted on a church's sign board. In this time of multi-tasking that we live in, is it really a sin to be busy? Let's read some Bible verses and see what we can dig up.

"Too much activity gives you restless dreams; too many words make you a fool."Ecclesiastes 5:3 (NLT)

"For the fool speaks folly, his mind is busy with evil." Isaiah 32:6 (NIV)

"But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!" Luke 10:40 (Amplified Bible)

"Too much," "busy with evil," and "too busy" all seem to yield poor results.

But what about these verses?

"Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both." Ecclesiastes 11:6 (NLT)

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5 (NIV)

These verses indicate being busy is good. However the individuals are to be busy doing their work, that is making a living and keeping their house. I think this last verse sums it up.

"We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies." 2 Thess 3:11 (NIV)

Being busy is good, if you are busy at the right things. Doing God's work, making a living for your family and keeping your home for your family. We are not called to be idle or lazy. However, we are also not called to be overly busy, which often results in neglected our family, and neglecting God. (Too busy to pray?) We aren't to be minding everyone else's business at the expense of our own.

As a mom, I feel very busy keeping up with housework and children's activities. But I know I am doing the work that God prepared in advance for me to do. Wisdom comes in knowing what to say "no" to, so that we don't become overly busy.

It is important to take on and complete the work that God prepared in advance for us to do*. Be discerning. Remember, just because it is a "good" thing to do, doesn't mean it is a "God" thing to do. Be busy working for God, but don't take on any side jobs from the devil.


*Ephesians 2:10 -- For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Feeding their Consciences

When my children were young I remember how simple it was to discipline them.  For example, if they were to take a piece of candy out of the candy dish even though I had told them not to, I would simply discipline them and tell them, "I told you no," as my explanation.

Now my children are older and this tactic no longer suffices.  You see, as they mature, they move from just being action controlled to needing their own moral reason why.  But I am a busy mom and taking the time to give that moral reason why can be challenging.  I tend to fall back into my old ways of parenting for convenience sake, unfortunately, it doesn't work well.

God has created each one of us with a conscience and a need for moral boundaries.  In order to be an effective parent, I need to take the time to research my scriptures, and pray, pray, pray for wisdom from the Lord as I discipline my older children.  God knows their hearts and He also knows the right way to teach each one of them.

One thing that stands true is God's Word.  If we feed this to our children regularly, then they will have the truth to fall back on when they are standing on the fence with a moral decision. 

Another tactic that works with my older ones, is to defer punishment to a later time.  This gives both of us ample time to ponder the situation, not to mention giving me time to cool off if I'm particularly angry about a wrong decision they've made.

Philippians 3:14  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

What is the goal for our parenting?  To raise up children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  If we keep our focus on that goal, then the time it takes to be effective parents will be worth the effort.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Thinking "Right" about giving gifts this Christmas

I'm finding it hard to believe that Thanksgiving is right upon us already and with that being the case, Christmas is just around the corner! As I have struggled over the years with spending, the Christmas season always stresses me out! It has always been like being pulled in two different directions.

The worldly side of me wants to buy my children everything they want and make my house look like those fabulously decorated houses I see in magazines. The perfect Christmas in my "worldly" mind is one where I give all the "right" gifts, have all the "right" foods, all the "right" decorations and spent time with all the "right" people. This type of Christmas means lots of stress for sure, but if I pull it off well, I can be sure to impress all the people around me.

The more spiritual side of me longs for a Christmas with LESS stress and more time to spend doing the things that REALLY make Christmas special; baking cookies with my children, doing "Christmasy" things with the family like going on tacky light tours or seeing a Christmas production and buying gifts for families who can't afford them. Most importantly, the spiritual side of me wants to focus my mind on the true reason for the season-Jesus!

The balance has varied from year to year. 20-80, 40-60, 50-50...

However, I still find myself yearning to get over the halfway mark and plunge into a more spiritual Christmas season. Every year about this time, I try to get intentional about how to bring this about. Being intentional gets me closer to the goal. It all begins for me, by examining my thoughts---being brutally honest with myself---and seeing if those thoughts line up with God's.

In my prayer time today I was addressing this and God reminded me of when my children were little and they would make me a Christmas gift at school. The most special ones were the gifts that were like "little pieces of them." You know the ones I mean; the plaques with the handprint on them, the silhouettes of their little faces with the hair sticking up just the way it always did! The gift didn't have value because it had cost a lot of money. The gift had value because we loved the giver and we understood the heart that went into giving the gift. Our little ones had used the resources they had; their two little hands, some art supplies, the ingenuity of a teacher perhaps, to make something uniquely from them. The gift wasn't the perfectly wrapped one under the tree by any means! But, it was always fun to open it up and see what was inside. Mostly, it was fun to see their eyes light up in anticipation as you opened the gift and how they beamed all over when you told them how much you liked it. The gift was given with love and we received it with love.

It wasn't just about the gift in itself It was about the giver and their heart.

Compare that with a lot of the gifts that are given today. We buy things for people out of reciprocation, perhaps obligation. We go into debt buying things we can't afford so that people will think more highly of us. We order gifts online, have them sent and sometimes never even put our own hands on them at all. Often we don't even see the person when our gift is presented!

When we do this, obviously it is because we think it is all about the GIFT.

Think about it. If it was about the giver, we wouldn't really look so good compared to our little darlings described earlier, would we? There is nothing personal involved. When we give in such a way, do we give with the same heart as our little child? Do we give a little piece of ourself? Are we more excited about actually giving the gift, or crossing it off our "to-do" list?

God surely shows us what it is to give GOOD GIFTS. He certainly gave from His heart. He gave us the most valuable thing HE had-His son-a saviour to reconcile us to Him and allow us a way to be with Him forever. God's gift came with a great deal of thought. He prophesied about it to us for hundreds of years before He sent it! It came at great sacrifice. He gave us Himself!

It's not about the gift or what it looks like. Jesus didn't come to us in "impressive package." He was born in a manger. Sometimes the value of the gift has as much to do with how we receive, as how we give. That's why God tells us to "Prepare our hearts." This requires that we take the time to look beyond the obvious. That we look beyond the material.

This Christmas I'm going to try to focus less on the gifts I give and more about the heart I give them in. I will give from my heart so that I can experience the joy that true giving brings. It's all about relationship. How many times have I knocked myself out running around for the "perfect gifts" and then was totally grouchy by the time I actually gave them? I had made it about the gift.

The world says it's all about how much you give and what the gift looks like. God says it's all about the heart. If you don't give with a loving, joyous heart, your gift has no eternal value. Let's try to care more about what God thinks about our giving this season!

Let's try to give more of ourselves.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Precious Gems

When my seventeen year old daughter told me she was pregnant, one of the first things I said to her was "I am not raising your child." I told her it was her responsibility and that I would help her, but I wasn't going to be her built-in babysitter or allow her to push her responsibility off on me. I was sincerely trying to instill an acceptance of the responsibility and consequences for her actions. What I didn't realize was that I had adopted the self serving way of the culture.

Soon after my grand-daughter's birth, God began showing me that being a grandparent carried much more responsibility than this culture would have us believe. It's not just fun and games and give the kids back when the fun is over. Lets look at these key phrases: "I am not raising your child" and "I am not a built-in babysitter". These are what I refer to as culturally correct phrases, but what do they say about who I am living for and who I am living to serve? God did not put me here to live for myself, but to live for Him and to serve others.

Yes, parents do have the primary responsibility to raise up their kids. But grandparents have so much to contribute to the lives of their grandchildren. Even if it means taking on some added responsibility. In some cases that may be what is necessary to protect the child or it may be the only opportunity the child has to learn to know and love the Lord.

I'm not suggesting that grandparents take over the role of the parent, nor am I suggesting that we become enablers. What I'm saying is that we do have a responsibility to contribute to the teaching and training of our grandchildren, to the extent that God will allow it. Grandparents have a big impact on the lives of these precious gems and we need to use it for Kingdom purposes.

From the time my first grand-daughter was born eleven years ago, you could hardly get her out of my arms. I was always praying over her and singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her to comfort her. Now I have been blessed with three beautiful grand-daughters. Three precious gems that I intend to polish so that the light of Christ shines brightly from them. I have purposed in my heart that I will do all that I can to teach them to know and love the Lord with all their heart, mind and soul.

I hope you will join me every other Wednesday as I share some of the lessons my grand-daughters and I are learning together, as well as some lessons God has taught me over the years about the impact of our actions for generations to come.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9


Sunday, November 8, 2009


Welcome to Titus 2 In Action - Father Figure

I am excited to be part of this new blog called Titus 2 In Action. Each writer in this group will be contributing to a specific issue that is important to the family.

All of us are from families! God in his great wisdom chose the family as the means to bring new life into the world and to nurture that new life to adulthood.

When followed faithfully, God's plan for family works wonderfully. But, being the fallen creatures that we are, we don't always follow God's plan for our own lives or that of our families. When that happens disruption can occur, with varying degrees of severity. Families can be stressed, behavior can be sinful, and the blessings that God intended to shower upon the family can be lost. Instead of the refreshment of blessing, families struggle through drought.

But, we need never despair! God's word spoken in even the driest, harshest climate can rejuvenate life and usher in those showers of blessings we thought we missed. It is God's purpose to restore every man, woman and child to himself, and with that, the family.

In Titus 2 In Action we want to share what we know about God's will and purpose for the family. My column in particular will be about fatherhood. I will share my insights into fatherhood based on my experiences with fathers, particularly my own dad and my own role as a father.

My kids are almost all grown now: one is 24, one 21 and the youngest is 17. But, I continue to read and study about parenthood because I am still a parent. How I exercise that role has changed, but I am still a dad and always will be. That is why I continue to study and try to learn. I hope some of that will be beneficial to the readers of this blog!

I hope you will become a regular follower of Titus 2 In Action. If you have any questions you would like to see me or any of us address, please feel free to communicate with us!

God bless,

Warren Baldwin

Friday, November 6, 2009

Love and Respect

"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Ephesians 5:33

Two simple words. Two profound commands. Husbands, LOVE your wives. Wives, RESPECT your husbands. (And did you notice the word "must" in there each time?)

Today and tomorrow at my home church, we are hosting the live Love and Respect Marriage Conference with Emerson and Sarah Eggerichs. (I love God's timing and His always perfect attention to detail...the first "Marriage Matters" post is today...the same day as the Love and Respect Conference that has been in the works for over a year!) Emerson and Sarah teach in-depth how these two nuggets of Truth can transform a marriage.

You may have heard and read Ephesians 5:33 so many times that you glance over it casually without soaking in its truth and power. Perhaps "Love and Respect" is a new concept to you. Either way, as you yield your heart to the Lord and humbly obey His commands concerning marriage, healthy marriages can become even more vibrant, and struggling marriages can be given new life. Our Redeemer is all about new life.

My husband, Jim, and I have been through this Bible study a few times. Keeping our feet to the fire of God's Word, we continually find life and encouragement through His truth. Jim and I know we must yield our hearts to the Lord's commands and abide in Him daily in order to honor Him with our lives and marriages. God brings forth the fruit. And when we are living according to His Word, wow is that fruit yummy!

Do you have a healthy marriage that you'd like to continue to nourish? Are you struggling in your marriage and need some life-giving hope? His truth brings new life! Dig into God's Word. If you would like to enter to win a copy of the "Love and Respect" book, please leave a comment with your contact information. The winner will be announced in the next "Marriage Matters" post.

As we visit together here at "Marriage Matters", we'll talk about honoring God with our marriages. Honoring our husbands. Husbands giving their wives unconditional love, and wives being respectful towards their husbands unconditionally. Yielding our hearts to the Lord. I certainly haven't arrived, but I am abiding in and on the journey with the One who has!

"With sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord..." (Colossians 3:22)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Digging Deeper

Do you garden? I'm not a fan of gardening. It's so much work! The worst part are the weeds. You need to pull even the tiniest weeds. It's better to get them while they are small. Those tiny little ones are the monsters of the patch a week or two later. The weeds that are close to your plants rob them of moisture and nutrients. And the worst part is, most weeds require pulling out all of the root system.

Isn't sin that way too? We might have a fruitful and flowering life. Then a little sin weed sprouts. Perhaps we watch a TV show or movie we know doesn't glorify God. Maybe we're hanging out with someone who we know brings out the worst in us instead of us bringing out the best in them. "It's not a big deal," we tell ourselves. But if we don't pull that tiny sin weed, in a few weeks it can grow in to bigger sin, robbing us of our righteousness and relationship with God.

Lazy gardeners don't want to do the weeding work, which involves getting to the root. They may be tempted just to cover over the weeds with mulch. We too may be tempted to just cover over our sin. If no one sees it, it doesn't matter does it? But just like the covered over weeds grow stronger roots and appear again, our hidden sin gets deeply rooted in our lives...and will at some time come out, possibly robbing our reputation and hurting our families.

Getting rid of weeds requires deep digging. So does getting rid of sin! Every other Wednesday, we'll be "digging deep" into the Word, to dig out our sin issues and plant fresh seeds in our soul. We use living water to water the seed. And in the end, we'll reap a bountiful harvest!

Luke 8:11 -- "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God."

John 7:38 -- {Jesus said} "Whoever believes in me...streams of living water will flow from within him."

Galatians 6:9 -- Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Lead by Example

The other day I took my four year old daughter, T. to the grocery store. As I helped her out of the car I noticed that she had her purse in one hand and her pretend cell phone held up to her ear with the other hand.

How cute, she looks just like me, I thought.  As I began to try talking with her, she responded, "Mom, I'm on the phone." Wait! That wasn't so cute, but that is how I acted while on the phone. Then it occurred to me that perhaps I had not put good boundaries around my time with my little T. I've since made a conscious effort not to talk on the phone while we are in the store's together. This has allowed for some great quality time together, which is a rarity when you have multiple children.

As parents, we lead by example whether we want to or not. Our children will imitate and mimic us whether we are acting good or acting bad, so it is critical that when we are looking for parenting advice we begin by first examining our own hearts and lives. Jesus always lead by example, here's what He says to us in John 13:15 (ESV) I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

Sometimes, as shown in my example above, we will discover glitches in our behavior that may need to be modified so we can be pleasing to God as we raise our children.

Every other Monday I will be sharing with you some of the lessons and tips that I've learned over the past 13 years on parenting. I will use real life examples and scriptures to support my advice. But be warned, if you read along, you will be encouraged to look at your own hearts first, then to your children's behavior.